Category Archives: Video Games

Wreck-It Ralph: A Gamer’s Paradise

So here’s an up to date review that’s still relevant. Wreck-It Ralph is a wonderful little Disney film about a wrecking villain named Ralph (John C. Reilly) who does nothing but wreck an apartment building. His counterpart and hero, Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer) fixes the crumbling building around him and gets a medal for all the hard work. What people who play the games don’t know is that Ralph is sick of being the bad guy.

This movie, first and foremost, is extremely original. As most of

Support group for the ages.

Disney’s animated projects go, it captures you with vivid images and great fluidity, and keeps you entranced with great cameos and good voice acting. This movie accomplishes all that and one thing more: it makes you extremely nostalgic. Throughout the entire film, everyone in the theater was pointing out to their friends and family who their favorite video game characters were and how cool it was to see them act on their own. Even some parents can get in on the action with Pac-Man and Q*bert.

How’s your blood sugar level?

Coupled to some original and iconic songs, there’s nothing about this movie that didn’t please me. You get all the stereotypical games (strategy Pac-Man style, Street Fighter button mashing, racing, shoot-em-up, and even some other bizarre appearances). There’s something for everyone in this pick-and-mix arcade, run by one of my favorite actors, Ed O’Neil. The only thing I could’ve wished for in this film was more video game characters. Where’s Master Chief? Where’s Ezio Auditore? You gotta at least get Mario. But yes, I sadly understand that all of those licensed characters would’ve cost the movie a fortune. Oh well…

So the plot of the movie is simple. Wreck-It Ralph gets fed up with his bad guy role in his 8-bit video game and goes to explore other games. He stumbles upon the opportunity to win a medal in Heroe’s Duty (big children’s joke) and does so. But his medal gets used by Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) to enter a race to win back some honor in

Jane Lynch has never looked so sexy.

Sugar Rush the racing game. It’s up to Ralph to make or break the day, and Felix and Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun (Jane Lynch) will do anything to get him back. It’s a video game for the ages.

What made this movie so spectacular were all the guest appearances and voice actors that graced the screen. Ever since Tim and Eric, I’ve grown to love John C. Reilly. And it’s nice to see his range as an actor in a kid’s role like this. Sarah Silverman is both cute and verbose as Vinellope, the cute child race car driver. Her poop jokes and tomboyish attitude are much appreciated by me. I’m not usually a fan of Jack McBrayer and his work on 30 Rock, but he was just fine and the perfect voice for Felix in this one. And here’s the big surprise… The Candy King was done by Alan Tudyk! I couldn’t believe my ears! He truly is the master of voices if I ever heard one. First A Knight’s Tale and now this? Wonderful.

How great are those detailed graphics?

Throw in Mindy Kaling of The Office and Joe Lo Truglio, and you have yourself just a sample of what is an entire cast of great voice talent. You also have Roger Craig Smith as the voice of Sonic (and Ezio Auditore of Assassin’s Creed 2), and Kyle Hebert as Ryu of Street Fighter (acclaimed voice actor),  and that’s a great addition. I loved the bad guy support group meeting as well. It’s all good in the hood.

I would recommend, if you have kids, taking them to see Wreck-It Ralph. It’s good for all ages (AKA, anyone who has ever played video games) and you’ll enjoy it too, no matter what your preference. So suit up and grab your controller and lay in to some good old fashioned fun. 8.8 out of 10.

Advertisements

Naruto: The Broken Bond

For those of you who have read my Naruto review, you know how much I’ve become a fan of the anime. There’s a character for everyone, action packed, and heartfelt at parts (impressive for a kid’s cartoon, no?). Imagine my luck when I found Naruto: The Broken Bond video game at a convention. (Found being the operative word.) I was overjoyed after finishing the entire first series (all fillers included, mind you) and I wanted to play this game so badly. Not much of a focus on Gaara of the Sand

Clean and crisp fight system, right up my alley.

(bummer), and no Shino to speak of. But the game did focus on my favorite part of the series. Retrieving Sasuke from the evil clutches of Orochimaru. Let’s get it on.

So this game, in all its 3-D glory, takes place from around episode 80 to 140. You find Itachi, recruit Tsunade, and fight for Sasuke. Some of the most legit parts of the entire series. And it all kicks off with the death of the Third Hokage. You get a detrimentally redonk fight right before the whole game kicks off. It’s dope.

An expansive world of the Leaf Village and surrounding area.

What’s the only downside of that? You have to fight with Naruto as the main character you customize and level up throughout the rest of the game. He’s lame, and he’s voice by Maile Flanagan. That robustly rotund woman has ruined Naruto for me, other than the fact he’s an annoying character to begin with. I watched Naruto dubbed, played the game dubbbed, and now it’s time for a different change of pace. Japanese loyalists rejoice, I’m switching to subbed for Naruto: Shippuden.

So in this new change apparently (never played the other game) from Rise of a Ninja, there’s a whole new fighting system where you can tag

Tag teams for ultimate destruction.

in a teammate. The world is more expansive and colorful than the last, and you really feel like you jumped into the world of Naruto. You’re flying through the trees, throwing Kunai, and rousing up some Ryo to pay for all your customizable ninjutsu. It’s pretty dope and there’s even some carnival games in there for the kids. All the side missions and length of the plot allow this to be a 40 hour game easy. And worth replay value and tournament play with friends. Even online, but it’s probably not worth it.

Where’s Shino?

Some surprises to me came in the gameplay as well. There’s no Shino as I said before. That loveable bug kid I wanted to cosplay someday isn’t in the anime much at this point, so they felt they didn’t need to put him in the game as a playable character. Lame. I loved being able to use Shikamaru (he’s dope as balls), and I created a love for Neji’s 8 Trigram, 64 Palm through playing as him extensively in the game. Little hint to anyone? If you wanna be cheap and win, use Kiba and his XXXY attack. Never misses, and it’s quick. Just a thought.

The plot towards the end is ruined when Choji, Neji, Kiba, Shikamaru, and Rock Lee come in to fight the Sound Ninja. The battles are too easy on easy and even just as simple on normal (labeled Ganin,

You create the ultimate battles.

Chunin, and Jonin). It was anticlimactic and I was looking for a lot more ninjutsu to utilize throughout the game. Only 2 for Shikamaru and most of the characters? Come on… But, all the same, there are so many character to love and choose from.

Get some of that dopeness.

So plug in and get hooked for a couple of days with Naruto: The Broken Bond. I’m planning on playing more of these and honing my skills with Rock Lee. The gameplay is the best part and it’s nostalgic for anyone who has watched Naruto to relive the events. Just don’t expect me to go exploring all that often without being able to navigate waterways and avoid sharp spike fences. Take away life, my ass.

Gotta say the overall game experience wasn’t too hard, and well worth all the fighting. So train well my young Ganin, for you will be a Hokage one day. (And please add Shino next time…) 8.4 out of 10.


Alice: Madness Returns

In this game of twisted returns to Wonderland, American McGee’s Alice returns with a vengeance. Featured on Windows, PS3, and Xbox 360, this game may leave you feeling a bit queasy and reeling. I haven’ played the original before, but this game got me pumped up enough for it. And you can buy the first one and play it on your game system via PS3 online or Xbox Live! All is wonderful in Wonderland…

This game takes place after the events of the first. The Red Queen is defeated and Alice feels she can return to a sense of normality. Or so she thought… Blaming

Now that’s what I wanna see (I loved her different dresses).

herself for the death of her family and sister Elizabeth in the house fire, Alice is sent to an insane asylum. After fighting back against her demons, she’s released, only to find herself slipping in and out of Wonderland.

Flying fanciful free… to your death.

But this isn’t the Wonderland I know and love. This Wonderland is deranged. There are dolls roaming everywhere, black liquid acid, everyone has been deformed and crippled! Steampunk has taken over! Alice must find what is going on and stop the Infernal Train that is haunting her dreams as well as her waking life. To save Wonderland, she must save herself… and vice versa.

This game had me off me tits for most of it. I had little semblances of what was real and where I was in space and time. The characters were familiar and yet bastardized at the same time. Up was down, down was left, right was wrong, and all that old shite. (You see the English mannerisms coming in, don’t you?) Alice has become snarky and meaner in her teen years, and it all goes to show that Alice had to grow up sometime. (She still loves her stuffed rabbit though…)

Oh, all the tools at your disposal…

The gameplay… was average. You jump and glide from platform to platform, hoping to don’t burst into butterflies, with that horrid far-off scream. You battle enemies, some easy, some impossible without the Hysteria feature that kicks in at low health. Whatever anyone says, the Infernal Ruin (the train mud dumps) are nearly impossible to beat, even on normal. I can’t imagine Nightmare mode… Most of the time you know the ways to get around, and every once in a while there’s an alternate route to take (thus, replay value). But for those really stressful times that come up in the game, I don’t really feel like going back and replaying stress. It’s not good for you, you know?

Off with her silly little head…

I think the game designers need to make Alice 3, and really vamp up the graphics. For an Xbox 360 game that was 10 years coming, it was rather lackluster. Alice’s hair is flying all over the place (actually cool) but glitches that weren’t even meant to be in Wonderland abounded frequently. If I have to play that game again and constantly fall into oblivion because there’s a glitch, I may become mad myself.

The voice acting was fine but not a lot of work was put into the cutscenes. You find out all this information in a right hurry, and it doesn’t seem to come to you where you can add up the dots. The picture cutout scenes were quite cool, but the in between mini games with the Japanese 2-D jumping and the doll’s head pinball, that has to go.

Get some of that sick depravity.

Overall, I loved the feel of this game. It was creepy, unsettling, and really focused in on my fear of dolls. Nothing feels childlike in this game and you feel that every second is your last with constant death and restarting. To analyze madness in such a way with the characters and the feeling of 19th century London, Alice Liddell really has things stacked against her. To question what is sane and insane was cool, the gameplay left something to be desired (got a bit repetitive towards the end), but, for an Alice in Wonderland fanatic, this game is just what I ordered. I own different copies of the story, different artwork, I’ve seen a dozen films, and this game combines my love of Alice and the gang with horror. What could be better? (Maybe better gameplay…) A solid 6.1 out of 10.


Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. A Nice Sendoff…

After having played these games faithfully over the years, I was kind of disappointed with the way Ezio and Altair’s storyline ended. These two historical badasses have taught me that I can view the wonderful views of Europe and  Asia from my sofa, and I learned a thing or two along the way. And what’s better than playing as a grizzled and gray old master? But what wasn’t great was the quickly knotted and severed storyline that just led Ezio to Altair through Constantinople. With some strange new additions and a lot of DLC I’ll never be able to play (more that I don’t care to), Revelations left a bittersweet taste in the mouth.

The story is quite simple (especially if you recently played Brotherhood). It’s been a few years and Ezio is starting to show his age. Now that is something I was impressed with in this game. To grow older and wiser with a character as the game progresses? THAT’S A GENIUS MOVE. I loved every second of knowing just where Ezio came

A few of the character types for AC: Revelations.

from and where Altair was going. It was an intelligent gameplay device for the series. So there’s now older Ezio, (known as the Mentor) who has come to Constantinople, formerly known as the Byzantine Empire. With warring factions of Assassin’s and hidden Templars vying for the city, it is up to Ezio to lead the charge against the unwelcome squatters.

Gotta love the Creed.

Okay, Ezio’s other purpose for coming to the Middle East. Altair, in one of the best opening videos for the game series ever, left a door locked for his lineage to discover hidden within Masayaf. Ezio rambles some henchmens’ brains and finds the door, only to discover he must find some keys in order to unlock it and find the secret weapon behind it. They’re scattered throughout Constantinople by the workings of Marco Polo and his father. Using book clues and a lot of cutlery, Ezio swings through the rooftops of the city in order to unlock the secret.

Even further in the plot is Desmond. He just hoo-hawed Lucy and is now in a coma inside of the Animus 2.0. With the help of the figment of Subject 16, Desmond must combine his Altair past lives and Ezio past lives in order to come back from the brink.

Ezio struggling a bit himself, on the edge.

Okay, gameplay: It’s the free running slaughterfest you would expect from the AC series. Ezio is older and shows it with his speed and dexterity. What could he need at this point, you’re wondering. 1 simple solution. Hookblade. This new addition to Ezio’s weaponry allows him to zipline through the city and avoid/slay guards at will. Think of it like a cane for an old man (with a blade hidden inside). Combos are as brutal and fresh as ever. Collectibles and city restoration are normal. But there were some problems.

A bit of the hookblade action.

Having to defend Constantinople from the Templars was annoying as poop. Around every corner, one of the Assassin’s Guilds was under attack. And then you’d have to do some Bloons Tower Defense all over their ass, and that took up time and cut away from you actually doing the slaughtering. There were too many missions with the Assassin recruits and having to visit them and wipe their bottoms wasn’t helping anything. And trying to get any semblance of achievements or furthering the percentage of completion in the game was weighed down by silly side missions and a block building game with Desmond. This is why I will always love the original more than any of the others. Missions, flags, and killing at will. There’s none of this side quests, hidden gems, and pampering the city B.S.

Ah yes, the young Altair. Notice the scar above his upper lip. That looks familiar…

With all of these problems aside, it was a pretty weak sendoff for Ezio and Altair. Yes, you walk around as Altair at 80+ doing some elite pwnage (never use that normally, guess I want to seem like a true gamer…)  and some nice explosions to walk away from, but nothing you would expect from the mind blowing storyline this game series has created. You find the goods, and then one of the biggest cliffhangers ever. Assload of credits and back to some freeplay. Damn it all to Hell, with AC3 coming out, you could’ve gotten me a bit more excited. So I’ll leave you with this. Play the game because it’ll make you feel a bit closer to Ezio and Altair. There are some great bits, but far from Brotherhood or AC1/2. The visuals are stunning and the history is rich, and that’s what I play these games for. Enjoy it while you can until you forget about it because you’re too busy hiding boners from AC3. Just a little bit longer… A solid 6.7

Get some of that carnage.

out of 10.


999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors

My girlfriend and their roommate raved about this game after they had both played it and talked about how great the storyline was. Now, I’m a sucker for a great plot and good storyline. I lived through their extolling of their game for a while until my girlfriend told me it was time for me to play. I sat down with her pink Nintendo DS and started poking all over the screen discovering just what they were raving about.

For the most part, they were right. This game was pretty ridiculously good. There’s a lot of investigation pointing and clicking with very descriptive dialogue translated from the original Japanese game. A creepy painting is pictured of the events taking place on the RMS Titanic, or so it may seem. The music perfectly accompanies the eerie feeling of threat and death that holds sway over the characters of the game. Combine this with a puzzle

The characters of 999.

solver’s wet dream, and you have 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors.

This is the story of Junpei, the character you play as through the game. Trapped in a ship’s guest quarters, you must use your wits in order to escape from a door in front of you labeled with a “5”. Once you’ve done this, the real game begins. You find yourself in a fancy looking reception hall, surrounded by all the trappings of what would appear familiar to anyone who has seen the movie Titanic. You encounter 8 other members of who will come to be your friends, your enemies, and casualties. It is up to your decisions to decide just exactly what will happen, with a few clicks of your DS stylus.

A little taste of what the game looks like (on right).

Being a not so puzzle inclined person, this game constantly frustrated me from beginning to end. Being a typical man, I like my video games to be hack and slash, gun down and slaughter. The subtle approach of solving a Sudoku doesn’t really tickle my fancy. It was only lucky that my girlfriend is so loving and patient and helped me with every puzzle. She even played some of the game for me. If you read this Kim, I love you very much for that.

I have to tell you though, if you don’t like puzzles or still frame gaming animation, don’t play this. It’s for a specific audience, (Wikipedia said in the vein of a puzzle related Mass Effect 2 by how you choose your fate) and not everyone likes to solve puzzles and use their brain as much as others. That’s not to say some people are stupid, it’s just a difference in gaming style. I like mindless self indulgence killing

Who’s this masked man? Play to find out!

games. Or Assassin’s Creed, take your pick. There’s a lot of reading, one of my other favorite pastimes, and that was a plus for this game. What I struggled to get into was the over-elaborate writing style of the translation. What could have been said in far fewer and more compelling words was long winded and said in such a bizarre way that I felt I was being pandered to as an uneducated, quaint, country bumpkin.

But my oh my, this plot has some really good points. If only to play it for plot, do so. Go out and rent the game for a few days with your Cheat Code Central at the ready and bust through this game on the double. There’s great reveals about the character’s pasts and intelligent information about scientific discoveries and thrilling mysteries of the past century. There’s killings and betrayal, and the occasional stab in the back. What you have to know about this game is you have to play it at least 2 or 3 times to win. You sit down, you reach and imperfect ending, and then you save and start back from the beginning, making different decisions and such. This gets a bit annoying, but the plot does make up for it. You have to bust your finger on the D-pad a whole bunch in this game because you can’t just skip huge chunks of dialogue you’ve already heard 4 times before. That’s a let down, but just wait.

The game begins… With dialogue.

In the end, this game really is worth playing through. If bunches of game reviewers can rave about this for its amazing plot and challenging gameplay, consider yourself a good player and go out and try it. And there’s a second one in the works for those of you who are already fans out there. Get past the dialogue and skipping and puzzling and enjoy it as an interactive story. Hell, if there was a Lord of the Rings game or a Harry Potter game that was purely interactive and not 1st person shooting and running, I’d play it in a heartbeat. 999 isn’t quite my game, but I’m glad I played it to know the mystery behind it. Maybe for those of you out there who like the Saw movies like I do, you might also find some enjoyment in the traps and puzzles. Let me know what you think and get back to me on this 7.999 out of 10 game.


Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

In continuation of the Ezio Arc of the Assassin’s Creed series, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood: is a slight continuation of the events of Assassin’s Creed 2. In considering this a half-stop between AC 2 and AC 3, this game delivers a whole new amount of gameplay almost identical to AC 2. Taking place entirely in Rome, Ezio climbs and leaps from the historic buildings of Rome and the surrounding countryside. You can rebuild Rome from the tyrannical rule of the Borgia family and attempt to take back what rightfully belongs to the people. In the vein of a Robin Hood story, you use the money from the government to buy the tools you need to take back Rome. The fight is on.

What lacks in this game in comparison to Assassin’s Creed 2 is the slow moving plot. The second game moves so fast with Ezio’s plot and how he becomes an Assassin, it leaves little to be done in the second. It’s all about the revenge story in this one. The Borgias have remained in power by Ezio’s inability to finish the job and he’s paying for it now. With the help of the Assassin’s Guild and a new feature which allows you to send and use Assassin’s to do your

Just a bit of the historic gold.

bidding, its up to Ezio Auditore and crew to save Rome.

This gameplay is identical to the gameplay in Assassin’s Creed 2. There are a couple of exceptions. The free running is a bit more advanced with some better gloves for climbing and some more advanced moves in traveling through the extra areas in order to collect the armor of Romulus. The synchronization experience in the game is a bit frustrating with having to attempt to achieve 100% with every mission. A lot more of the missions in this game dealt with not being detected, a fact which frustrated me to no end. If the job is achieved, I would like it to be up to me how it is done. If I want to kill everyone and then deal with the target, what’s wrong with that?

Abe Lincoln joke anyone? Maybe an Assassin from the Guild killed him too… In AC 5…

Anyways, the rest of the game is just as fun as the second game. The Subject 16 missions are just as fun and challenging as the first, indicting the entirety of the world’s powers in what appears to be a power grab by the Templars that control the world. The artwork and historic building information makes me feel smarter while I’m playing a video game. I love games like this with basis in history that allow you to function as a badass Indiana Jones and solve the mysteries behind some of the world’s biggest marvels. With art, weaponry, and Leonardo Da Vinci’s weaponry, history becomes kick ass.

The voice acting is phenomenal as usual in this game. The workers at Ubisoft have their shit on lock with the amazing cast they get to pull of the Italian tinted accents of all the characters in the game. The emotions and actions of the characters are appropriate and, unlike many other video games, the characters are realistic for the subject matter of the game. And, for once, this game has a main character who is above the age of 25. In his mid 30’s, Ezio can still kick as much ass, but the fatigue actually wears on him. The same goes for 50 year old Ezio in Revelations. Let’s talk about character development and just how well this game pulls that off.

Ah yes, the Borgias… and notice the crossbow I forgot to mention.

The Brotherhood has arrived.

With all these elements in my all time favorite game series, Assassin’s Creed is one of the most well thought out games of all time. The creators in every country behind the games come together under different ethnicities and creeds to create a masterpiece of a game. They bring the accuracy of different religions and histories in order to be as accurate as possible. And thinking about the fact that these characters are based on real historical figures is just the icing on the cake. So hunker down and get into Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, its a perfect slow down point in the game that allows you to seep in the glory that is Ezio and the Assassins.

 


Assassin’s Creed II

Now I haven’t done a game review in a long time, but this game needs to be blogged about. I’m a huge fan of the Assassin’s Creed franchise and I now have recently acquired all the games. It’s not just the gameplay, that’s pretty standard throughout the games. For me, it’s the plot. The intricacies of the game and the secrets uncovered are just earth shattering. This particular game takes place in Italy, more particularly, Venice. With accurate building schematics and a bevy of real life characters altered to fit the contexts of the game, there is nothing that stands in the way of this game being just as good as the first and just as good as all the others.

This games kicks off with a little bit of a continuation from the last. Desmond Miles is a test subject under the jurisdiction of Abstergo, known as the Animus project. There’s this bastard, Warren Vidic, who has kept you holed up for way too long. The entire first game takes place in this testing laboratory in which there is no outside contact and no concept of what exactly is going on. Desmond is forced, through

The city is yours. Lay waste to it.

futuristic technology, to relive the past lives of his ancestors, members of a special assassin’s guild. First it’s Altair, and now it’s Ezio Auditore da Firenze. I’m gonna give a nod to Roger Craig Smith for the voice acting on that one. Ezio is a strong protagonist who really thrives on the revenge of his family’s death and he will do absolutely anything to fulfill it.

How is this not breathtaking?

And, through the course of the game, you parkour, slice, and lay waste to the guards and streets of Italy as you travel from your home base of your Uncle Mario (“It’s a me, Mario!”) and all over Florence, San Gimignano, Forli, Venice, and Rome. Let me tell you, the sneaking and wreaking of havoc all over the Vatican is something to remember. It almost makes me want to travel there in order to find the secret hidden underneath. The famous buildings all over every city is quite exquisite and down to the last detail correct. There’s an element of National Treasure/Indiana Jones (more the latter) in all of the hidden seals you must find in order to unlock the armor of Altair, sealing your memories of the two assassins together.

Let’s talk about the gameplay here. Okay, the free run system, I would like to argue, is one of the most advanced and best of any game currently on the market. Flowing consistently through every game, Ezio can run through the streets and, at any moment, you can be scaling a building and jumping from rooftop to rooftop. For those of you who know the game, you feel like a combination of Spiderman without the tights, and Batman with all his gadgets, just a bit more lethal though. And that’s another thing. Weapons. There is a damn shizzload of them. Throwing knives, double hidden blades (even poisoned), and swords and maces out the whazoo. With lots of different armor combos and capes to conceal and run train, this game leaves no battle up to chance.

Talk about intricacy...

Speaking of battling in the game, there’s a whole new stock of finishing moves to discover. With every weapon comes a new way to kill. You can even pick up the weapons of fallen enemies in order to exact your revenge. I gotta say, try the pike, its magnificent. And another nice thing about the game is that it’s one difficulty. That leaves it accessible to those who can figure out how to play the game and doesn’t get much more difficult. The achievements are easy to unlock and master, leaving you with a heightened sense of achievement. I can really appreciate a game that doesn’t make an achievement secret or ridiculously hard to master. There is only one achievement that I find to be the bane of my existence. The feathers. How is that a fair task to put to Ezio? Those feathers are impossible to sight in a free run on the map and to collect 100 of them? Those with a lot of free time can try to figure that out…

But this all comes back to the plot and characters. The Medici family, Borgia and all the villains

Awwwww yeah da Vinci.

politically connected. The tragic story of the Firenzes and the use of Leonardo da Vinci in the game. It’s just a big eye opener. For sure, you have to discover the secret video files in all of the hidden areas of the cities. It’s connection to the origins of the world and the suggestion to the end of it really blew me away. It may seem a bit hard to follow or, on the flipside, contrived and a bit hard to believe, but, in the end, it really made me want to believe what I was witnessing. And I can’t wait to play the next two. These games just keep getting better. A definite 10 out of 10.

Get to work. It's time to run train.